Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Four-Banger for Your Buck: The 10 Most Expensive Cars with Four-Cylinder Engines

While more stringent emissions and fuel-economy requirements are seemingly pushing eight-, 10-, and 12-cylinder engines the way of the dodo, the once lowly four-cylinder has seen a stratospheric rise as of late. Advancements in forced-induction and electrification technologies have seen the four-banger elevated to previously unseen levels of price and performance. We decided to survey the current automotive landscape and see just how high the four-cylinder can go. ---What follows is a list of the most expensive new cars as of this writing that are powered by a four-cylinder engine, either on its own or with the help of turbos, superchargers, and/or electric motors. We didn’t add any stand-alone options or packages to the prices in compiling this list of costliest four-cylinder vehicles, but we did choose the most expensive trim levels and drivetrain combinations where applicable.Given that nearly all of its competitors offer an upgrade to a six-cylinder powertrain, Mercedes-Benz took a risk by limiting its all-new, mainstream E-class sedan lineup to a four-cylinder engine in the United States. The standard E300, available with rear-wheel drive or 4MATIC all-wheel drive, comes standard with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that puts out a decent 241 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque.Yes, six- and eight-cylinder versions of the E-class are on the table, but they require stepping up to the aggressive AMG versions, which come in V-6–powered E43 and V-8–powered E63 models, the latest generation of which has yet to be revealed. If you’re still looking for a non-AMG E-class with a higher cylinder count, the U.S. will get an E400 station wagon later this year with a 3.0-liter V-6 putting out 329 horsepower.BMW’s 5-series mid-size luxury sedan is about to be replaced by an all-new version, but the current model will continue for a few more months. Its base U.S.-market powertrain, a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder in the 528i, slots below a range of more powerful versions, including the inline-six 535i, the V-8 550i, the six-cylinder diesel 535d, and the high-performance M5.Despite its relatively modest 240-hp output, the 528i provides solid performance: we recorded a zero-to-60-mph sprint of 5.9 seconds. BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system is a $2300 option. We also count the 5-series' M Sport package as a separate trim level, given that it adds different bodywork, performance-oriented wheels and tires, and more.The old Volvo shied away from four-bangers, instead offering most of its cars with five- and six-cylinder engines. But the new Volvo, the one now owned by Chinese company Geely, is taking a different approach and is now using 2.0-liter four-cylinders across nearly its entire lineup. In the attractive new S90 sedan, this four-cylinder can be had in a choice of two states of tune: the turbocharged, 250-hp T5 or the more powerful turbocharged and supercharged T6 with 316 horsepower.A plug-in-hybrid version of the S90 using the same 2.0-liter engine along with electric motors will arrive within the next few months. We’re holding out for the V90 wagon, which goes on sale in the U.S. next year sharing its platform, interior, and engines with the S90, but with even more space inside and attractive long-roof bodywork.Cadillac says that its new CT6 sedan is definitely not meant to compete with the true flagships of the luxury world (read: the Mercedes-Benz S-class). The CT6’s base engine choice confirms this, since the big cruiser can be had with a relatively diminutive 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder. Of course, the Caddy’s surprisingly light weight helps performance—we measured a zero-to-60-mph time of 6.1 seconds with this engine.The relatively featherweight construction also gave Cadillac the confidence to launch the CT6 without a V-8 option (for now). The engine choices are a naturally aspirated 3.6-liter V-6 and a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6. Both six-cylinders are offered only with all-wheel drive, but the four-cylinder model is rear-drive only, likely limiting its appeal to warmer climes. A plug-in-hybrid version, also with a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder, will be sold in small numbers in the U.S.; its price is likely to exceed that of the 2.0T model, but we won’t know the cost until it goes on sale a few months from now.Land Rover’s smallest model, the stylish Range Rover Evoque, benefits from the automaker's most luxurious trim treatment, called Autobiography. Extra-fancy leather, a Meridian sound system, and additional exterior trim pieces are included, as they are on the larger and more prestigious Land Rover models. But the luxe trim package doesn’t affect the Evoque’s standard engine, which remains a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder mated to a nine-speed automatic.The Autobiography is offered only as a conventional four-door, but a slinky two-door version of the Range Rover Evoque is also available. For 2017, there’s even a convertible version of the Evoque, picking up where the bizarre Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet left off.Alfa Romeo’s distinctive sports car takes a page from Lotus’s book in its quest for light weight. A carbon-fiber tub combines with a minimalist interior and a lack of features to create a low curb weight of 2504 pounds. And because it weighs so little, less is more in the engine compartment. The 1.8-liter, 240-hp turbocharged four-cylinder doesn’t sound like much muscle, but it’s enough to catapult the 4C from zero to 60 mph in just 4.2 seconds.The 4C Spider’s foldable-top mechanism also adheres to a philosophy of simplicity: it’s really just a removable cloth panel that detaches from the roof in a rather primitive way. But it seems worth it for the possibility of open-top thrills in this distinctive Italian sports car.BMW is about to go all in on plug-in hybrids, having announced that nearly every model in its lineup soon will spawn one of these electrified versions. The first mainstream Bimmer plug-in to arrive after the i8 hybrid sports car was the X5 40e, which replaces the standard X5’s six- and eight-cylinder engines for a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder mated with a 111-hp electric motor. You’ll pay approximately $5000 extra for a 40e compared with a conventionally powered, six-cylinder xDrive 35i.Total output for this is 308 horsepower; the powertrain has its work cut out for it to move the X5’s 5283 pounds. Electric-only driving range is a scant 14 miles, but after you run out of juice, the X5 operates as a typical hybrid, swapping power between the electric motor and the gasoline engine. The EPA rates the hybrid at 24 mpg combined, 4 mpg higher than the 35i, but we averaged a disappointing 21 MPGe in our testing.It has been years since Porsche, known for glorious flat-six engines, has ventured into four-cylinder territory. But the newest versions of the Boxster and Cayman sports cars, now sporting a 718 suffix as well, are offered only with turbo four-cylinders: a 2.0-liter unit in the standard cars and a 2.5-liter unit in the quicker, sharper S models. Performance from the new flat-fours is impressive, with the Boxster S delivering 350 horsepower and 309 lb-ft of torque—the latter number being 43 lb-ft higher than the naturally aspirated inline-six previously offered on the Boxster and Cayman.Even now, after driving the 718 range, we couldn’t help thinking that something was missing from the experience: namely, the sound and the linear power delivery from those legendary inline-six engines that are so dear to Porsche enthusiasts.BMW’s plug-in-hybrid initiative appears to be starting from the top down, with this sort of powertrain appearing first on the flagship i8 sports car and then on the X5 SUV. The new range-topping 7-series sedan lineup gets a hybrid version of its own this year with the addition of the 740e, which uses a setup similar to that of the X5 that appeared earlier on this list.A turbocharged four-cylinder, the first four-banger to be installed in a 7-series, combines with an electric motor to make 326 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. Range on electric power is more than that of the X5 plug-in hybrid, according to BMW, at 23 miles, and its top speed in all-electric mode is 75 mph. The 740e is the first plug-in hybrid to wear a new iPerformance moniker that’s meant to connect these cars with the company’s “i” sub-brand.An ultra-luxurious all-wheel-drive, six-figure SUV weighing more than 5000 pounds seems like just about the last candidate to get a four-cylinder engine. But the 2.0-liter four-cylinder installed in the top-of-the-line Volvo XC90 Excellence has plenty of help. Not only is it turbocharged and supercharged, it also benefits from an advanced hybrid system that brings on two electric motors for a total system output of 400 horsepower and 472 lb-ft of torque.The XC90’s Excellence treatment takes this already plush crossover into extremely luxurious territory, with special interior trim and a four-seat layout (instead of the standard car’s five- or seven-seat options). Included are two thronelike rear seats with tray tables, massage functions, individual entertainment screens, and even a refrigerator that can hold a champagne bottle and two glasses.
from Car and Driver Blog http://www.caranddriver.com/flipbook/four-banger-for-your-buck-the-10-most-expensive-cars-with-four-cylinder-engines


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